Beacon of Freedom: Does America Have a Special Mission? A discussion with C. Boyden Gray, Gordon Wood, Michael Barone and Richard Epstein. Part 1 of 2.
This panel examines the question whether there is an American ideology of exceptionalism that is deeply rooted in 400 years of our history. Have Americans from John Winthrop to the Founding Fathers to Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan believed that we are a shining city on a hill - a beacon of liberty and democracy for the rest of the world? Do we still believe in the creed affirmed by the Statue of Liberty that America is the light of the world and the natural home of all who are oppressed? Many historians have claimed that the belief that Americans are special people with a special mission in a special place is a recurrent theme in our history. Is the United States a country organized around an ideology of belief in freedom, democracy, social equality, and individualism and, if so, is that a good thing?- The Federalist Society
Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S. News and World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics.
Richard A. Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Epstein is also, a visiting professor at NYU Law School.
C. Boyden Gray
C. Boyden Gray, of the District of Columbia, was sworn in as the Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with the Rank and Status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on January 20, 2006.
Prior to his appointment as Ambassador in Brussels, Mr. Gray was a partner in the Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr law firm in Washington, where he worked from 1969 to 1981 and 1993 to 2005. He was White House Counsel in the administration of President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993) and earlier served as Legal Counsel to Vice President Bush (1981-1989).
Ambassador Gray was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He earned his Bachelorâ€™s degree magna cum laude from Harvard University and his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Law School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review. Following his graduation from university, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. After law school, he clerked for Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1968-69).
At the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr, his practice focused on a range of regulatory matters, with emphasis on environment, energy, antitrust, public health, and information technology. Ambassador Gray served as counsel to the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief during the Reagan Administration. While working as White House Counsel, he was one of the principal architects of the 1991 Clean Air Act Amendments. He served as chairman of the Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice of the American Bar Association 2000-2002.
Ambassador Gray has served on the boards of numerous charitable, educational, and professional organizations. For Harvard University, he has been a member of the Committee to Visit the College and of the Committee on University Development. He is the recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of North Carolina Law School.
Leonard Leo is the Executive Vice President of The Federalist Society.
James Harvie Wilkinson III
James Harvie Wilkinson III is a federal judge serving on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. He taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Brown in 1969.
Wood is the author of The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize in 1970, and The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1993. The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin (2004) was awarded the Julia Ward Howe Prize by the Boston Authors Club in 2005. His latest books are Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History and Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.
Wood reviews in The New York Review of Books and The New Republic and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He received his bachelor's degree from Tufts University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Wood previously lectured at Chautauqua in 2009, in a week on "The History of Liberty."